Some cool tool grinding services pictures:
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated globally in much more hostile airspace or with such comprehensive impunity than the SR-71, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft. The Blackbird’s efficiency and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technologies developments during the Cold War.
This Blackbird accrued about 2,800 hours of flight time during 24 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force. On its final flight, March six, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging 3,418 kilometers (two,124 miles) per hour. At the flight’s conclusion, they landed at Washington-Dulles International Airport and turned the airplane more than to the Smithsonian.
Transferred from the United States Air Force.
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson
Country of Origin:
United States of America
Overall: 18ft five 15/16in. x 55ft 7in. x 107ft 5in., 169998.5lb. (five.638m x 16.942m x 32.741m, 77110.8kg)
Other: 18ft 5 15/16in. x 107ft 5in. x 55ft 7in. (5.638m x 32.741m x 16.942m)
Twin-engine, two-seat, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft airframe constructed largley of titanium and its alloys vertical tail fins are constructed of a composite (laminated plastic-type material) to minimize radar cross-section Pratt and Whitney J58 (JT11D-20B) turbojet engines feature massive inlet shock cones.
No reconnaissance aircraft in history has operated in much more hostile airspace or with such full impunity than the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the fastest aircraft propelled by air-breathing engines. The Blackbird’s overall performance and operational achievements placed it at the pinnacle of aviation technology developments for the duration of the Cold War. The airplane was conceived when tensions with communist Eastern Europe reached levels approaching a complete-blown crisis in the mid-1950s. U.S. military commanders desperately necessary precise assessments of Soviet worldwide military deployments, particularly close to the Iron Curtain. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s subsonic U-2 (see NASM collection) reconnaissance aircraft was an capable platform but the U. S. Air Force recognized that this relatively slow aircraft was currently vulnerable to Soviet interceptors. They also understood that the fast development of surface-to-air missile systems could place U-2 pilots at grave threat. The danger proved reality when a U-2 was shot down by a surface to air missile over the Soviet Union in 1960.
Lockheed’s 1st proposal for a new high speed, higher altitude, reconnaissance aircraft, to be capable of avoiding interceptors and missiles, centered on a design propelled by liquid hydrogen. This proved to be impracticable because of considerable fuel consumption. Lockheed then reconfigured the design for traditional fuels. This was feasible and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), already flying the Lockheed U-two, issued a production contract for an aircraft designated the A-12. Lockheed’s clandestine ‘Skunk Works’ division (headed by the gifted design engineer Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson) designed the A-12 to cruise at Mach 3.2 and fly properly above 18,288 m (60,000 feet). To meet these challenging needs, Lockheed engineers overcame several daunting technical challenges. Flying more than three times the speed of sound generates 316° C (600° F) temperatures on external aircraft surfaces, which are adequate to melt conventional aluminum airframes. The style team chose to make the jet’s external skin of titanium alloy to which shielded the internal aluminum airframe. Two standard, but very potent, afterburning turbine engines propelled this exceptional aircraft. These power plants had to operate across a huge speed envelope in flight, from a takeoff speed of 334 kph (207 mph) to far more than 3,540 kph (2,200 mph). To avoid supersonic shock waves from moving inside the engine intake causing flameouts, Johnson’s group had to design and style a complicated air intake and bypass technique for the engines.
Skunk Functions engineers also optimized the A-12 cross-section style to exhibit a low radar profile. Lockheed hoped to accomplish this by carefully shaping the airframe to reflect as tiny transmitted radar power (radio waves) as achievable, and by application of special paint created to absorb, rather than reflect, those waves. This remedy became 1 of the very first applications of stealth technologies, but it never totally met the design and style objectives.
Test pilot Lou Schalk flew the single-seat A-12 on April 24, 1962, right after he became airborne accidentally for the duration of high-speed taxi trials. The airplane showed excellent guarantee but it necessary considerable technical refinement prior to the CIA could fly the first operational sortie on Could 31, 1967 – a surveillance flight over North Vietnam. A-12s, flown by CIA pilots, operated as element of the Air Force’s 1129th Special Activities Squadron beneath the "Oxcart" system. Even though Lockheed continued to refine the A-12, the U. S. Air Force ordered an interceptor version of the aircraft designated the YF-12A. The Skunk Performs, nonetheless, proposed a "specific mission" version configured to conduct post-nuclear strike reconnaissance. This program evolved into the USAF’s familiar SR-71.
Lockheed constructed fifteen A-12s, which includes a unique two-seat trainer version. Two A-12s had been modified to carry a particular reconnaissance drone, designated D-21. The modified A-12s were redesignated M-21s. These have been designed to take off with the D-21 drone, powered by a Marquart ramjet engine mounted on a pylon in between the rudders. The M-21 then hauled the drone aloft and launched it at speeds higher enough to ignite the drone’s ramjet motor. Lockheed also constructed 3 YF-12As but this variety in no way went into production. Two of the YF-12As crashed during testing. Only one survives and is on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The aft section of 1 of the "written off" YF-12As which was later employed along with an SR-71A static test airframe to manufacture the sole SR-71C trainer. 1 SR-71 was lent to NASA and designated YF-12C. Which includes the SR-71C and two SR-71B pilot trainers, Lockheed constructed thirty-two Blackbirds. The first SR-71 flew on December 22, 1964. Simply because of extreme operational fees, military strategists decided that the more capable USAF SR-71s should replace the CIA’s A-12s. These were retired in 1968 right after only one year of operational missions, mainly over southeast Asia. The Air Force’s 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (part of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) took over the missions, flying the SR-71 beginning in the spring of 1968.
After the Air Force started to operate the SR-71, it acquired the official name Blackbird– for the particular black paint that covered the airplane. This paint was formulated to absorb radar signals, to radiate some of the tremendous airframe heat generated by air friction, and to camouflage the aircraft against the dark sky at high altitudes.
Experience gained from the A-12 system convinced the Air Force that flying the SR-71 safely necessary two crew members, a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO). The RSO operated with the wide array of monitoring and defensive systems installed on the airplane. This equipment integrated a sophisticated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) method that could jam most acquisition and targeting radar. In addition to an array of advanced, high-resolution cameras, the aircraft could also carry gear developed to record the strength, frequency, and wavelength of signals emitted by communications and sensor devices such as radar. The SR-71 was created to fly deep into hostile territory, avoiding interception with its tremendous speed and high altitude. It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach three.3 at an altitude more than sixteen miles, or 25,908 m (85,000 ft), above the earth. The crew had to put on pressure suits equivalent to these worn by astronauts. These suits have been necessary to shield the crew in the event of sudden cabin stress loss whilst at operating altitudes.
To climb and cruise at supersonic speeds, the Blackbird’s Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines had been designed to operate continuously in afterburner. Whilst this would seem to dictate high fuel flows, the Blackbird in fact accomplished its greatest "gas mileage," in terms of air nautical miles per pound of fuel burned, during the Mach 3+ cruise. A standard Blackbird reconnaissance flight may require many aerial refueling operations from an airborne tanker. Each time the SR-71 refueled, the crew had to descend to the tanker’s altitude, normally about six,000 m to 9,000 m (20,000 to 30,000 ft), and slow the airplane to subsonic speeds. As velocity decreased, so did frictional heat. This cooling impact caused the aircraft’s skin panels to shrink significantly, and those covering the fuel tanks contracted so much that fuel leaked, forming a distinctive vapor trail as the tanker topped off the Blackbird. As soon as the tanks had been filled, the jet’s crew disconnected from the tanker, relit the afterburners, and once again climbed to higher altitude.
Air Force pilots flew the SR-71 from Kadena AB, Japan, all through its operational career but other bases hosted Blackbird operations, as well. The 9th SRW sometimes deployed from Beale AFB, California, to other locations to carryout operational missions. Cuban missions were flown directly from Beale. The SR-71 did not start to operate in Europe till 1974, and then only temporarily. In 1982, when the U.S. Air Force based two aircraft at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall to fly monitoring mission in Eastern Europe.
When the SR-71 became operational, orbiting reconnaissance satellites had currently replaced manned aircraft to collect intelligence from sites deep within Soviet territory. Satellites could not cover each geopolitical hotspot so the Blackbird remained a important tool for worldwide intelligence gathering. On many occasions, pilots and RSOs flying the SR-71 supplied information that proved vital in formulating profitable U. S. foreign policy. Blackbird crews offered critical intelligence about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath, and pre- and post-strike imagery of the 1986 raid conducted by American air forces on Libya. In 1987, Kadena-based SR-71 crews flew a number of missions more than the Persian Gulf, revealing Iranian Silkworm missile batteries that threatened industrial shipping and American escort vessels.
As the performance of space-based surveillance systems grew, along with the effectiveness of ground-primarily based air defense networks, the Air Force started to drop enthusiasm for the high-priced plan and the 9th SRW ceased SR-71 operations in January 1990. In spite of protests by military leaders, Congress revived the system in 1995. Continued wrangling more than operating budgets, even so, soon led to final termination. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration retained two SR-71As and the one SR-71B for higher-speed study projects and flew these airplanes until 1999.
On March six, 1990, the service career of one Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird ended with a record-setting flight. This unique airplane bore Air Force serial number 64-17972. Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Vida, flew this aircraft from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 1 hour, four minutes, and 20 seconds, averaging a speed of 3,418 kph (two,124 mph). At the conclusion of the flight, ‘972 landed at Dulles International Airport and taxied into the custody of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. At that time, Lt. Col. Vida had logged 1,392.7 hours of flight time in Blackbirds, far more than that of any other crewman.
This specific SR-71 was also flown by Tom Alison, a former National Air and Space Museum’s Chief of Collections Management. Flying with Detachment 1 at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Alison logged far more than a dozen ‘972 operational sorties. The aircraft spent twenty-four years in active Air Force service and accrued a total of two,801.1 hours of flight time.
Weight: 170,000 Lbs
Reference and Further Reading:
Crickmore, Paul F. Lockheed SR-71: The Secret Missions Exposed. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1996.
Francillon, Rene J. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987.
Johnson, Clarence L. Kelly: Far more Than My Share of It All. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985.
Miller, Jay. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Leicester, U.K.: Midland Counties Publishing Ltd., 1995.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.